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Hello Guest!
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Fall harvest photo and questions

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BackyardBirdGardner
gwennifer
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Post  gwennifer 9/28/2011, 3:30 am

So here's my main fall harvest from my first-ever SFG:

Fall harvest photo and questions 09271110

We already harvested and ate one head of broccoli earlier and there are two more still growing. There's just over two cups of sugar pods there. My girls had picked a couple of handfuls last Saturday and there are plenty more still growing. And that was my second bowl full of spinach. Not bad!

Question: How do I know when to harvest my carrots? I hear waiting until they've been "touched by frost" makes them sweeter. Do I need to worry about them rotting or getting woody if I leave them in and they are mature? Is that what is called "over-wintering"? Are only some varieties capable of that?

Question 2: Should I begin a practice of checking the weather reports for frost warnings now? The book shows harvest continuing after the first frost. Is that assuming you've protected the plants from the frost?

Question 3: How do I prevent my fresh veggies from going all limp after I harvest them?

Best part of all this so far is my 3 year-old munching away on pea pods and demanding "Let's eat it!" after I brought in the first broccoli head. Very Happy
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Post  BackyardBirdGardner 9/28/2011, 9:09 am

Bear in mind I'm no expert here:

1- I check the carrots with my finger. I just stick my index finger in the ground along the shaft of the carrot root. When I can feel the carrot far enough down and the carrot feels thick enough, I yank one. If I like it, I take the rest. I usually take the bigger ones first and can leave the smaller ones in the ground for another few weeks. Rarely do I pull an entire square at once.

2- I would if your frost date is inside a month. Here's a great link to watch imo. http://www.intellicast.com/National/Temperature/FrostFreeze.aspx

Spinach, lettuce, carrots, peas, especially broccoli, are all pretty cold tolerant. They don't get bothered much by frosts. It doesn't hurt to cover them with a fabric or plastic covering, but you can continue harvesting after first frost, weather permitting. Indian Summer is defined as "above normal temps after the first frost of autumn." Sometimes this period can last several weeks. Just because you get a frost doesn't mean you stop gardening everything. Things get nipped, others don't. Keep growing what wants to keep growing.

3- This differs per veggie. Beans like to be washed before using NOT before storing. Potatoes like to be kept in a bag at room temperature. I would do a little google searching because there's no way to cover everything here. "Storing lettuce" or "How long will lettuce keep in fridge" will likely turn something up.

Great harvest. I'm so jealous right now it's not funny.....to me. Wink
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Post  Icemaiden 9/28/2011, 10:54 am

If you think your carrots are big enough to eat now then why don't you pull enough for a meal and get tucked in?

Don't worry about the frost. Carrots stand up to frost well. If it is severe or prolonged then the green tops will droop but the carrot will be fine for a while in the ground. When I gardened in the soil I sometimes left a few in til Christmas by which time I had to hack through the top bit of ground but the carrots were just fine to eat.

If you want to keep them a while then the fridge is the best place. Cut off the leaves close to the carrot as otherwise they draw the water out of the carrot and it becomes dry and woody. I would just brush off the Mels Mix and put them in a plastic bag. My mother in law always used to wash the soil off but I think they store less well if they are wet. If you have to keep them a long time then perhaps re-bag them to stop dampness.

Best of all just start pulling them now and give your 3 year-old one washed but with the leaves on for that Bugs Bunny moment!
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Post  boffer 9/28/2011, 12:35 pm

My brocs are fifty cent size. When did you start yours?

Carrots are ready to be eaten when you are ready to eat them! (Use BBG's finger test to check for size) I plant carrots in Mar, Apr, May and they are stored where grown in the box until next spring. When they start growing again in March, they begin to get bitter. I little frost makes them sweeter as the starch turns to sugar as protection from freezing. Carrots can handle a few freeze/thaw cycles. If the freezes are deeper and longer than we are used to in the PNW, they will get soft, but are still usable. You can use 6-12 inches of straw as mulch to protect them from freezing. I keep my carrot box covered with plastic to keep them from drowning. I grow nantes and danvers.

I know that broccoli plants can handle 25°. I don't know if the flowers can. But, I got surprised last year by an unexpected freeze, and all my broccoli heads froze solid. So I cut them off, still frozen, and put them into the freezer. My family agrees that it was the best broccoli we've ever eaten. It had a sweeter, buttery flavor. (Maybe the plant converted starch to sugar? I don't know.) I'm going to try to freeze broccoli on the stem intentionally this year. Am I nuts to be hoping for a good hard freeze to freeze my broccoli?!

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Post  AprilakaCCIL 9/28/2011, 2:15 pm

Looks great gwennifer. cheers

boffer wrote:My brocs are fifty cent size. When did you start yours?

Carrots are ready to be eaten when you are ready to eat them! (Use BBG's finger test to check for size) I plant carrots in Mar, Apr, May and they are stored where grown in the box until next spring. When they start growing again in March, they begin to get bitter. I little frost makes them sweeter as the starch turns to sugar as protection from freezing. Carrots can handle a few freeze/thaw cycles. If the freezes are deeper and longer than we are used to in the PNW, they will get soft, but are still usable. You can use 6-12 inches of straw as mulch to protect them from freezing. I keep my carrot box covered with plastic to keep them from drowning. I grow nantes and danvers.

I know that broccoli plants can handle 25°. I don't know if the flowers can. But, I got surprised last year by an unexpected freeze, and all my broccoli heads froze solid. So I cut them off, still frozen, and put them into the freezer. My family agrees that it was the best broccoli we've ever eaten. It had a sweeter, buttery flavor. (Maybe the plant converted starch to sugar? I don't know.) I'm going to try to freeze broccoli on the stem intentionally this year. Am I nuts to be hoping for a good hard freeze to freeze my broccoli?!


((Oh)) Now I believe I want to try freezing my broccoli on the stem.

When did you start your broccoli Boffer? I still don't have any broc' heads showing up yet.
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Post  boffer 9/28/2011, 3:57 pm

My weather is somewhat similar to gwennifer's.

I direct seeded on 7/17.

Just for grins, I put shade cloth over one box full of broccoli when we had a several week spell of mid-high eighties. There are no heads showing in that box yet. Hmm...
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Post  gwennifer 9/30/2011, 3:07 am

Well thanks y'all!

BBG, thanks for the reply and the link. That website will be handy. My carrots seem very skinny when I poke around them. I suppose some varieties grow fatter than others. I saw your post about the scouts using your newly planted fall garden like a sand box. That's rough. I'll be watching for your box cover solution.

Icemaiden, I totally would not have thought of giving her a washed carrot to munch on without cutting the top off first. That would be much cuter! Thanks for the idea.

Boffer, I bought broccoli transplants at a nursery, neglected them for a bit, and put them in the garden on August 3rd, by which time the cauliflowers I had direct sowed on July 29th had all sprouted. When I left for AK on Sept 6th, there was nothing on the brocs. I came back on the 12th (neatly missing the 90 degree heat wave), and all six brocs had heads. My cauliflower still has nothing as of today. I wonder how old the broc transplants were?
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Post  gwennifer 10/19/2011, 2:35 am

I forgot to update this - I let my girls pull a few carrots. Hard to tell from the picture, but they are only three or four inches long (the useful part anyway).
Fall harvest photo and questions Img_3510

That was two weeks ago. We'll try again in November and see what difference another month makes. The colors are pretty! I actually haven't liked the high rise box on the garden and wasn't going to bother with it next year, but the carrots were fun to pull... The box just dries out so quickly. I have a 1' x 2' box that covers two squares.
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Post  camprn 10/19/2011, 6:27 am

gwennifer wrote: I actually haven't liked the high rise box on the garden and wasn't going to bother with it next year, but the carrots were fun to pull... The box just dries out so quickly. I have a 1' x 2' box that covers two squares.

After the carrots are done in the highrise I suggest that you add liberal amount of compost for the next growing season, this will help with water retention as you will have more organic matter than the basic mix when you started. Another thing you may wish to consider is adding a mulch when your plants are a bit larger seedling, this too will help retain moisture. Congrats on the pretty rainbow carrots. Very Happy

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Post  gwennifer 10/19/2011, 12:51 pm

Thanks for the advice camprn! Weren't you the one who used to have the rainbow carrot avatar? I was hoping to re-create that with our harvest.
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Post  camprn 10/19/2011, 10:03 pm

gwennifer wrote:Thanks for the advice camprn! Weren't you the one who used to have the rainbow carrot avatar? I was hoping to re-create that with our harvest.
Yup that was me. I'll resurect that avatar sometime soon! Wink

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